When an advert rose above mediocrity

There’s an intriguing ad on radio- intriguing mainly in the sense that there is nothing quite like it either on Radio or TV in Rwanda. The ad is on Lemigo Hotel. I don’t intend to take up half the column giving a word-by word description of it. Suffice to say, the ad plays on the word’ lemigo’ turning it into a running joke where it sounds like ‘let me go’ and it does so with the aid of a faux Italian accent. 

There’s an intriguing ad on radio- intriguing mainly in the sense that there is nothing quite like it either on Radio or TV in Rwanda. The ad is on Lemigo Hotel. I don’t intend to take up half the column giving a word-by word description of it.

Suffice to say, the ad plays on the word’ lemigo’ turning it into a running joke where it sounds like ‘let me go’ and it does so with the aid of a faux Italian accent. 

It’s funny, surreal and silly- and I mean ‘silly’ as a compliment in this context.

Advertising in this country is generally little more than a guy shouting aggressively about what you should buy. There is rarely any wit or style or any attempt to engage with the potential consumer in a meaningful way.

There doesn’t seem to be a distinction between an advert and a public service announcement except with an advert, the announcer sounds like a South American commentator who has just witnessed a sublime goal and can only express his ecstasy by challenging decibel-level records. 

Frankly, I don’t like being shouted at, and I’m pretty sure I won’t buy your milk afterwards.

Perhaps what a lot of companies don’t understand is that it’s about more than just announcing your product. You need to create an indelible association between your company and an emotion or idea.

Coca Cola for example sells itself as a vehicle for happiness and pleasant social interactions, and this permeates all their ads. It’s probably one of the most effective campaigns in history, but they didn’t get there by accident.

The alternative is to be content with going for a shallow strategy where a slogan or image is as far as you are going to get. One company uses a mildly funny Youtube clip on a loop as an ad and it’s become the heart of its campaign.

However, that doesn’t really go to the heart of the authenticity of the company (not to mention the obvious fact that using the same image over and over again isn’t really a triumph of creativity).

‘Authenticity’ might seem like a strange word to use in this context- advertising after all is at heart a bit of theatre and smoke and mirrors where hyperbole is the rule rather than the exception.

However, even this artificial world requires a level of authenticity. Since advertising often targets primal areas, consumers can also sense something not quite right at that level.

Your manufactured brand must be ‘real’. What makes a brand feel ‘real’ or ‘fake’ is the subject of another self-indulgent post, but you know it when you see it.

When I hear that biscuits Ad on radio, I don’t for a second buy the premise or realism underpinning the family interactions and the sequence of events that suddenly elevate biscuits into the realm of food for the gods.

Any ad that so self-consciously feels like one surrenders a chance to make a real impact.

So I embraced the Lemigo Hotel ad because in a sea of sameness and mediocrity, it was bravely, swimming against the tide (and taking a risk at that- the ad could have backfired) and even though the ad was cheeky, it somehow felt real.

It went for an angle that competitors hadn’t really gone for, and it used genuine wit. This should be the norm.

minega@trustchambers.com

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